The 12:12 Torq in your sleep is a 12hr mountain bike race held not to far from Guildford on some military land which they have kindly allowed the organisers www.gorrick.com to hold the races on.
It was my first attempt at a 12hr race and was to be treated as a learning curve. Although I have done some endurance MTB races before back home, never a 12hr. This was to be a taster.
For a week I had eased back from the little training I had done and started to carbo load. Feeling bloated and heavy by the Thursday just prior to the race on the 30th August, I decided a bit of climbing wouldn't hurt so close to the race. But the climbing did prove that I had gained "hopefully" useful weight.
Saturday I did a pre race ride with the TriTalk crew, a flat sensible ride, was the plan. Not spanking Club ride groups and traffic light sprints, but this seemed to do the job of blowing the cobwebs out of the system.
Anyway, Sunday morning arrived Nik and I set off after packing the van to the race venue Minley Manor, thank you army and thank you Army Cycling for negotiating the use of the land for Gorrick events and for all of us riders.
I registered, set up the pit and the van and went over for the rider briefing. Stock standard rules which some would ignore and others just plain not understand, but that is racing.
So 12pm rolled around and we had a rolling start, teams edge their way to the front and so did some Solo riders (I will next time), whilst many others dropped to the back to stay out the way of the sprint at the start. We were off.
some parts of the track got jammed for the first few k's as the riders sorted themselves out and others proved that they had very little bike handling ability on what was not an intensely technical track, but it was perfect for a 12hr race. Need to remember we were going to be riding this for 12hrs not 2 and half. Too technical and half the field would be about after 6hrs.
The tracks was "excellent" I think the course designers got the mixed right, whilst the course didn't feel any tougher as the hours ticked by it clearly was proving to be for some.
More riders were found in a cloud of dust at the side of the track, clinging to a tree. Some would sprint past many of the Soloist in the pursuit of team glory on the fire roads, only to display the technical handling ability of a drunk hippo on a uni-cycle. One team member causing one girl to step off her bike and three others to heavily brake as he sprinted past with the speed of a greyhound and then ducking back in and hitting his brakes hard to make the corner. The chorus went something like "you w4nker"
My race overall was going well, even finding time to chat to the second place Solo Female as we seemed to be lapping at the same pace for a while. I was enjoying the track and the riding maybe a bit too much, rather than worrying about the race.
Even feeling as good as what I did, I enforced a 30 minute stop at the 6hr mark, this was the strategy for me to get through this race and I was sticking to it, rightly or wrongly (probably the later, but I know this now). I stopped, chatted to Nik, changed clothes ate a bit more and then headed off. Apparently I looked tired, but I did feel fine.
Out on the track I had to find my rhythm again, the biggest loss from the stop, the next lap I decided it was time to get going and had planned to push two 45 minute laps and then for the next 2hrs push a a little harder around the 40 minute mark to cross the start/finish just before 12 to grab another sneaky lap.
I went pass the pit yelled something to Nik, I don't remember now and was certainly pushing harder but finding it easier. Soon I came to the bomb holes, down and up out of the first, down .......crunch, snap, ting, rattle, tick tick tick.........a bad and familiar sound.
It was dark now and my lights had flashed down into the bomb hole before raising out, laying in wait for someone rear mech was a stick, a big stick. The damage to the bike was one removed rear derrailuer and dropout, two bent spokes. The damage to me nothing and the race was over. I was only about 3/4 of a mile from the start/finish and rules are you complete the lap you are on. 7 miles on foot in cycling shoes would take longer than was worthwhile.
I trundled back to the pit to find Nik and tell her what had happened and then report to the timing team. TORQ in your sleep was over for me.
After a shower, Nik and I sat there track side cheering the riders on and trying to spot the guys and girl I had been chatting to as they went by and cheering "Go Solo" to every rider with a glow-stick, the warning light of the solo riders.
The chap next to us came in 5th in his age group, great work Richard and the other guys on the other side 2nd and 3rd in the Open Men's Solo. The girl I had lapped with, went on to a great second place in the Open Women's, whilst a lunatic (I suspect he is a very nice chap) on a Single Speed took first in the Men's Open. RESPECT!
A special thanks to my pit crew and cheer squad Nik, you rock! To all the other riders and I am sure I say this for all solo riders, thanks for the encouragement, in particular the Army Cycling Union.
Gorrick, you will see much more of me, keep up the great work.
Cycleworks, thanks for the great support and I'll stay away from sticks next time, but prepare the card payment system. ;-)
I learnt a lot and will be back, it was brilliant and my type of suffering. As for the lessons learnt, I'll keep those to myself for now.